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Fall Ballot Measures Put Fate of Hot-Button Issues in Voters’ Hands

In elections nationwide, voters will decide on 36 ballot measures covering reproductive rights, marijuana legalization, property taxes, who can circulate ballot initiative petitions and more.

By Helen Brewer  |  October 16, 2023

Six states will vote on 36 statewide ballot measures this fall.

Four of these measures will be on Louisiana’s Oct. 14 primary ballot; 28 will be on the Nov. 7 general election ballots in Colorado, Maine, New York, Ohio and Texas; and the remaining four will be on Louisiana’s Nov. 18 general election ballot. Thirty of the 36 measures are legislatively referred constitutional amendments or statutes, while the other six are citizen initiatives.

Oklahoma voters decided one ballot measure in March, Wisconsin voters saw three on the ballot in April and Ohio voted on one measure in August. When these five measures from earlier this year are added to those coming in the fall, voters will have decided the fate of 41 ballot measures in 2023. Texans will vote on more ballot measures than anyone this year.

The 41 measures are on par with numbers for recent years. In 2021, there were 39 measures across nine states; in 2019, there were 30.

Many of this year’s measures focus on taxes and state funds:

  • Texas Proposition 7 would establish a fund to support the development of electric generating facilities.
  • Texas Proposition 6 would create a fund to serve a variety of state water-related projects.
  • Louisiana Amendment 3 would allow localities to exempt first responders from up to $2,500 in property taxes.
  • Colorado Proposition HH would reduce property taxes and increase the amount of revenue the state can retain and spend.

In some states, voters will weigh in on subjects that have been at the forefront of recent politics. Ohio’s Issue 1 will ask voters whether to establish a state constitutional right to “make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions” before viability. Ohio voters will also vote on legalizing marijuana (Oklahoma voters rejected a similar initiative in March).

Louisiana voters will decide whether to enshrine a right to worship in a church or other place of worship in their state constitution. They’ll also vote on Amendment 1, which would prohibit the use of any money or goods and services in the conduct of elections if a private or foreign actor donated them. Several states have prohibited such contributions via statute in recent years (see NCSL’s Elections Enactments pages for details).

By the time the 2023 election cycle ends, voters in Ohio and Maine will have considered ballot measures about the ballot measure process itself. In August, Ohio voters rejected a measure that would have raised the threshold for making changes to the state constitution via ballot measure from 50% to 60%. Consequently, the reproductive health and abortion question on Ohio’s November ballot will need 50% of the vote to pass, as opposed to the 60% threshold that would have applied had voters approved the August measure. In November, Maine voters will decide whether to remove the requirement that initiative petition circulators be Maine residents.

For more on these measures and to stay up to date as measures begin to qualify for the 2024 ballot, visit NCSL’s Ballot Measures Database.

Helen Brewer is a policy specialist in NCSL’s Elections and Redistricting Program.

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